Niles Canyon Railway

The Sierra Railroad's 2002 Iron Horse Roundup
Photographs by Alan Siegwarth

In early 2002, the Sierra Railroad invited the Pacific Locomotive Association to bring the Quincy #2 to Oakdale for their second “Iron Horse Roundup” steam festival.  The Quincy #2 along with Sierra Railway #28 (based at Jamestown) spent a hot Labor Day weekend pulling trains from Oakdale east towards Sonora on the Sierra.  The event marked the first time the #2 had left Niles Canyon since the PLA trucked her to Brightside in the early 1990’s. 

 In preparation for the event, we found that the low profile of the #2 which makes the engine look small and squat when pulling a heavyweight passenger car is actually an advantage.  The locomotive with the safeties and whistle removed just missed being an over height load by 3 inches once loaded on the truck!  Moving railroad equipment by road is never easy, but being a normal height load made the move much easier.  On Thursday, the #2 and the Niles Canyon Railway flatbed with tools and supplies for the weekend left for Oakdale.

 Labor Day in the Central Valley – while the weekend marks the end of summer, the 106 to 108 degree F temperatures the entire weekend reminded us of how hot the central valley can be.  The high temperatures in combination with the boiler heat gave us new respect for those that ran steam in similar conditions when steam was in general service.  Over the weekend, the #2 and #28 ran excursion trains about 8 miles out of Oakdale and returned.  In the afternoon, several doubleheaded excursions were run with both locomotives on the point – a definitely overpowered train, but an event that will probably never happen again with these two locomotives. 

 The highlights of the weekend were a doubleheaded sunset BBQ train to Warnerville and back.  The trip back to Oakdale with the setting sun reflecting off of the train was a beautiful trip.  On Labor Day, the #2 pulled a PLA charter with a mixed consist from Oakdale to Cooperstown and back.  The 38 mile roundtrip is most likely the longest trip the #2 has ever taken in regular service considering the Quincy Railroad was only 8 miles long and the Niles Canyon Railway is about the same length.  The PLA thanks the Sierra Railroad for the invitation to bring the Quincy #2 for a weekend of operation on their railroad.   Working with the Sierra Railroad employees, the Jamestown volunteers and State Museum employees was a great learning experience for all three organizations.  The sharing of knowledge and camaraderie will be remembered for many years to come.

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